Internet Governance and Communication beyond Boundaries

ICA Pre-Conference

24 May 2019

Washington, DC, USA

Hosted and sponsored by the Internet Governance Lab at the American University.

Co-sponsored by ICA Communication and Technology Division, ICA Communication Law and Policy Division, and the Global Internet Governance Academic Network (GigaNet).

Extended abstract due: 11 February 2019
Full papers due: 25 April 2019


Internet Governance and Communication beyond Boundaries

Contemporary questions about the information society are inseparable from questions of governance of the underlying infrastructures, the logic of information flows, and its uses at the edges. The scope of questions under the general umbrella of internet governance is thus extremely broad, but at the same time vaguely defined. In the spirit of this year’s ICA conference theme, this event will discuss the issue of boundaries in internet governance both as a substantive topic of research and as a reflexive exercise for internet governance as a research domain.

Substantively, within internet governance, boundaries have been traditionally an important area of research starting with question of sovereignty and jurisdiction in cyberspace, reaching to the exploration of boundaries of the technical, legal, social, and political decision-making with constitutive effects on the internet. As a field of study, internet governance has been debating its disciplinary boundaries as well as the scope of research questions that can come under this broad label.

To facilitate this debate, we are inviting proposals that cover a broad scope of topics relating to internet governance and communication, including, but not limited to, topics such as:

  • Power structures in internet governance, their sustainability and change;
  • Nationalization of internet governance and possible threats of internet fragmentation;
  • Privatization of internet governance and its impact on individual freedoms and human rights;
  • Technical, legal and policy initiatives for cybersecurity and their impact on global internet governance;
  • Emerging forms of governance such as trade agreements or user-driven change;
  • Technological disruption and emerging governance questions in areas such as artificial intelligence and human augmentics;
  • The respective powers of the users, technology designers and regulators in distributed systems;
  • Public awareness of internet governance and communication of internet policy;
  • Visions and metaphors of information technology in internet policy discourse;

We are particularly interested in proposals that offer a reflection on Internet Governance as a field of research. Those may address, but again, are not limited to, the following topics:

  • How does one research Internet Governance? 
  • Epistemological and practical challenges of Internet Governance research;
  • The (multi)disciplinary, topical, and epistemological boundaries of Internet Governance research;
  • Exploration of the boundary between research and activism in Internet Governance.

The pre-conference is organized by the Internet Governance Lab at the American University and the Global Internet Governance Academic Network (GigaNet). It is co-sponsored by the ICA Communication Law and Policy and Communication and Technology divisions, but it touches upon the fields of many more ICA divisions and interest groups. We aim to bring together ICA participants interested in questions of governance, GigaNet members from other disciplines, and the Washington, DC community of practitioners and policymakers. Our goal is to have a mutual learning process and exchange of ideas and challenges for the further development of Internet Governance research. For further inquiries, please contact Kenneth Merrill ( or Dmitry Epstein (

Submission details

At this time we invite authors to submit extended abstracts (800-1000 words) that describe the main thesis, research goals, and to the extent possible, the methodological background and findings of their paper. All extended abstracts must be uploaded through EasyChair by 11 February 2019, with all identifying information removed. All contributions will be peer-reviewed.


Authors of the accepted abstracts will be asked to submit a full original manuscript of approximately 4000 to 8000 words, which have not been published elsewhere, by 25 April 2019. Based on the volume and the quality of submissions we intend to explore a potential thematic publication of pre-conference materials.